According to Google, it’s going to cost you $300 over the course of the summer to run one air conditioning window unit. So which room do you choose? The bedroom? Your home office? The living room? Does your entire family huddle around this loud, dripping machine when summer is at its peak? Is there always someone in the house complaining it’s too cold?
The reluctant truth is, our grandparents survived without air conditioning, especially in New England. With a few common sense actions and a teeny bit of willingness to forgo optimum personal temperature at all times, you too can save some money and do a little bit more for the environment.
So what is your survival plan?
- Go CFL or LED. If you needed (another) reason, here it is. Incandescent bulbs waste about 90% of their energy in emitted heat. While CFLs and LEDs might only make a small difference in the temperature of your home, you’re also saving (more) electricity.
- Let the air in. Open up those windows at night. If you live in a noisy area, use a fan for white noise — it’s still more efficient than that AC unit. And if you live in the country, bask in the primal sounds of sleeping with the crickets and peepers. They will sing you sleep.
- Close the blinds. The early morning air is some of the coolest you will feel all day, but once that sun has broken the horizon and temperatures begin to climb, shut it down. Your home has captured what it can for cool air, so now trap it inside by closing windows and pulling blinds. It may seem counterintuitive, but your late morning/afternoon self will thank you.
- Grill, baby, grill. Stay away from the stove and get fireside. Cranking up a giant appliance to 350 inside the house is no way to end the day.
- Feel the freezer burn. Go ahead and stick those fresh cotton sheets in the freezer for a few minutes before turning in. Then enjoy a freshly made, pleasantly chilled bed.
- Get creative with air flow. If you thought fans were just for blowing in, think again. Turn your window box fan around and suck all of that hot air out. If you choose juxtaposing windows, the hot air will be sucked out and cooler air pulled in. Try different arrangements to figure out what works best in your home. If you’re lucky, you may even achieve the gold standard — a cross breeze.
- Go old-school. Place a large bowl or roasting pan of ice in front of the fan. The breeze will pick up the cool air and send it your way. Yes, people used to do this pre-AC and yes, it works!
- Down a quart? Fill ‘er up. Drinking water throughout the day gives your body the tools it needs to stay cooler through perspiration. Yes, your body is designed to sweat a little.
- Take a cold shower. It’s refreshing, saves energy, and studies show it can even make you an all around more productive person.
- Unplug. Disconnecting (not just turning off) electronics at night will bring the core temperature of your house down and save electricity.
While eating ice cream may seem like a natural plan for a hot day, counterintuitively, drinking a hot cup of tea can actually help to lower your body temperature and trigger your sweat glands.
These quick tips are effective ways to keep your cool when temperatures soar up over 80, but it’s also helpful to keep the long-view in mind. Consider investing the money you will save to plant trees and vines around your home, or installing awnings over windows. While $300 may seem worth it in the hottest months, remember that collectively we can make a big dent in excessive energy use.